persons-hand-removing-paycheck-from-the-envelope-pictureA motor vehicle accident is never a positive experience. However, the steps you take after an accident help determine the severity of the outcome.  If you are injured in a car accident, contact a car accident lawyer in Duluth, GA, right away to preserve your rights, start healing, and compensate you for any lost earnings because of the injury.  

Is Compensation Available?

When a car accident occurs that results in an injury, a major issue that clients are concerned about is providing for their family.  This is especially true for those that are the sole breadwinner of the family, or a family that requires two incomes, which is most Americans today.  

Most individuals in the United States would be seriously impacted if they suddenly were unable to earn a paycheck.  Thankfully, the state of Georgia allows for wage loss compensation and loss of potential earnings.

Lost Wages vs. Potential Earnings

There are two types of damage awards, or compensation, that are provided to the injured party through a settlement or jury award.  These are called special damages and general damages.

Special damages are simple to calculate, such as medical bills and physical therapy.  General damages are those losses that are difficult to put an exact number on. For example, pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.

Lost wages are typically easy to calculate. However, future potential earnings can be difficult to determine.  Lost wages measure what was already lost, while potential earnings measure what may be lost.  

Potential earnings can be defined as earnings the injured party would or could have received had the injury not occurred.  Perhaps the party would have received a promotion, but now won’t because he missed too much work. An injured party could have been in negotiations to transfer to a better department in the company, or received another job offer and was using it to leverage a higher salary. These are typical examples of potential lost earnings.

The typical American worker begins their career in an entry-level position and devotes time and energy to work their way up to supervising and managerial positions.  When an injury interrupts a hard worker’s path to success, a Duluth, GA, car accident lawyer can help recover appropriate compensation.

Loss of potential earnings can also be called “loss of opportunity,” which emphasizes the loss of an opportunity for higher wages.  This is awarded under general damages because it speaks to the mental suffering of the injured. Factors that insurance companies and juries consider are the age of the injured party, the industry they are in, the likelihood of future promotion, and the employee’s file.

Proving Lost Wages

The last thing an injured party should have to deal with is evidence gathering.  This is exactly why you have a car accident lawyer in Duluth, GA assisting you every step of the way.  While the client is focused on healing, their attorney will be handling the insurance claim representative, countless other phone calls, drafting forms, providing documentation, and negotiating for a fair settlement.

Lost wages are special damages. Generally, proving lost wages is easy. The first document your attorney will require is a letter from your doctor stating what your work status is. For example, “modified”, “no lifting more than 10lbs”, or “patient is not to return to work until medically cleared”.  

Usually, when dealing with lost wage cases, doctors will provide a letter stating that the injured party is not to return to work until medically cleared.  Your attorney will provide this to the insurance company immediately.

Next, give your attorney a copy of your work schedule, or a release to speak to your supervisor. This way, they can document the hours and days you missed.  Hold on to your paystubs and make sure to mail or deliver the paystubs regularly to your attorney. If you are on modified work duty, note the amount of time you must take off from work for doctor’s appointments, procedures, and any additional therapy. Make sure your Duluth, GA car accident lawyer knows this information as well.

Finally, if a settlement is nearing, the injured party can ask for a “lost wage certification.” This is a form from their employer that shows every day the employee missed and their regular hourly wage.  It is important to not solely rely on this; the previous steps must be followed as well.

Additional Considerations

If you are self-employed, there are two ways you can prove your loss of wages.  First, your attorney can hire an accountant to provide a thorough analysis of your earnings to the insurance company or jury.  Secondly, providing documentation of consistent earnings at regular intervals can help prove your lost wages immensely.

If you have sick leave or vacation hours and opt to use those because you want to receive income while you are not fit to work, you have every right to do that.  However, this still amounts to lost wages because had you not been injured, you would not have had to use your sick leave or vacation hours. You are still entitled to compensation for those days.

Protect Your Rights

Since 1988, Andersen, Tate & Carr has been successfully winning settlements and jury awards.  They strongly believe in helping the community they grew up in, right here in Duluth, GA. Supporting clients during the worst times of their lives is what this firm is passionate about.  

Andersen, Tate & Carr is one of the largest firms in Northeast Georgia with the resources and experience to handle car accident claims.  Please call (770) 822-0900 to get started on the road to fair compensation and healing.